"The higher you go, the fewer women there are".

Dana von der Heide is co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of the logistics start-up Parcel Perform - and winner of the Digital Female Leader Award in the Innovations category. In an interview with Startbase, she explains how she wants to revolutionize e-commerce and what her plans are in the US.

Dana von der Heide founded her start-up Parcel Perform together with her business partner Arne Jeroschewski in Singapore. Now the team has set up a second location in Berlin to cope with the booming business in Europe. The pandemic in particular has fueled demand for logistics solutions in e-commerce.

Ms. von der Heide, you call yourself a technerd, making you a rare specimen as a woman in the logistics industry. Was the path difficult for you as a female founder?

There are far fewer women in logistics than in the tech industry anyway, especially in the executive ranks. I previously worked for a large logistics company and already noticed there that the higher you go, the fewer women there are. I wanted to change that and still do. It is difficult for women to find their way into this industry, which is why I want to do as much as possible to inspire many women to join LogTech with Parcel Perform.

What makes you different now, specifically for women in your company?

We have almost 50 percent women in all functions. But I also see myself as a role model to show that logistics does not have to be a male-dominated industry and that you can also be successful as a woman. The good thing is that, thanks to the boom in e-commerce, there are many more young people in the industry today who are concerned with this topic and for whom a balanced environment is important. The industry as a whole is getting younger and more diverse. But there's also a lot of work to be done.

Their company has a lot to do anyway. You just moved back to Berlin this year after living in Asia for six years. Why?

I've been in Singapore for the last six years because I was excited by the rapid growth of Asia. After my first two years there, I also met my co-founder Arne Jeroschewski and we both realized that there was a huge need for transparency in parcel logistics there. Since we both come from the Berlin area and we have also gained many customers here in Europe, we are naturally looking forward to expanding further in Europe. The corona pandemic was a good time for me to move back and virtually manage our global teams. And there is a lot to do - e-commerce has become even more important during this time, which has allowed us to grow all the more.

Logistics companies are not data-first companies, after all.

Dana von der Heide, Founder Parcel Perform

Why is the need so great?

When people shop online, they want to know where the delivery is and, more importantly, when the package will arrive. After all, the customer wants the package to arrive reliably and they want to be able to plan their day. If it says it will take five to ten days, they may not buy the product. So knowing exactly when the order will reach you influences every online shopper's decision-making process. The problem: Across the more than 700 different logistics providers we integrate, only five percent indicate when their package will even arrive. And those who do state it are even often wrong.

Why do you think that is?

Logistics companies are not data-first companies. They focus on delivery, but have few teams that evaluate delivery data in a structured way, even though they have the data. For example, they say: it takes three to five days. They don't use machine learning to replace forecasting for that, like we do. We want to give much more accurate forecasts and you can't do that with rule-based planning, certainly not in the days of Corona.

How does that work instead?

We aggregate tracking data from hundreds of logistics service providers and standardize it so that we can then interpret it and use it to accurately forecast the arrival date. We then embed this prediction as a data point into the retailer's tracking page and they use this as helpful information to communicate with the customer. This way, the consumer does not have to switch to the logistics provider, but can see from the comfort of his desk and on the webshop's page when his package will arrive.

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You make your money with retailers like Waterdrop, every Foods, Snocks and many growing other brands. So the ones that are actually on the other side. Why do they have an interest in this?

Because they are interested in keeping the customer on their side. Tracking updates from logistics providers are sometimes very opaque to many customers. If their package doesn't arrive, they usually first call where they ordered, which is the online retailer. However, the online retailer is often unable to help. This irritates the customer and, from a marketing point of view, leads to a disruption of the shopping experience. In addition, the exact prediction of the arrival date of a package offers a wonderful point of contact with the customer, who often reads such mails and builds trust in the shop.

But, after all, you can't take care of everything if it's not in your area of responsibility.

The important thing is: the customer does not want to be left alone in a situation where he does not know where his delivery is. Responsibilities should not be shifted back and forth. Especially not when there are problems with the delivery. In that case, retailers must also be able to help quickly and without complications, and for that they need the right data.

And this is possible with Parcel Perform?

We want to use it to offer a completely self-contained shopping experience. Because that benefits all sides. The retailer gains the loyalty of the customer. The customer is directly informed and the supplier also has less work. We are just the silent intermediaries.

But we don't just want to keep expanding, we also want to create a good work-life balance for everyone and operate in our customers' time zone.

Dana von der Heide, Founder Parcel Perform

Your biggest clients include online mail order companies Zalando and Wayfair. Are you worried that the market boom will mean a lot of competition coming soon?

We see growing competition, but that doesn't worry us. It shows that there is an incredible market potential. As more and more parcels are sent, we need better and better solutions. But by starting six years ago and putting data at the heart of our offering, our machine learning is very advanced.

That's why your company may even be heading to the US soon. What are your plans?

It would be great if that works out. Especially to have an office in the US for some employees. Our work is global anyway. For customers like Nespresso, for example, we have to look after several countries across all continents at the same time. But we don't just want to expand further, we also want to create a good work-life balance for everyone and operate in our customers' time zone. In the future, we will not only expand our tracking offering, but also continue to invest in machine learning and returns processes.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Personal details: Dana von der Heide, 30, studied communication and political science as well as psychology. She describes herself as a "tech nerd" because logistics is her great passion. In her podcast called "The Logistics Tribe" she talks about the global logistics market and supply chain management. For a long time she lived in Singapore, where she also founded Parcel Perform.

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